Kicking the coffee habit

Is caffeine and all other stimulants a no-no? 
Caffeine can help in those urgent situations where you need to feel alert, get a boost and generally feel good. It becomes a problem over time where you are relying on caffeine to give you energy and get you through the day, or if you are relying on stimulant supplements to give you energy for gym or alertness to study. 

There are natural ways to boost energy levels through good nutrition! Especially when studying. You want to be alert and able to concentrate because your brain got the nutrition it needs.

Too much coffee is more than about 4 – 6 cups per day. The recommended amount of caffeine is about 300mg per day. Three cups of coffee and a couple of glasses of Coke, or even diet Coke, easily sets you over this limit. What is more is that a large Cafè Mocha with whipped cream can pack on 1500 kilojoules, equivalent to a cheese burger! 

All the caffeine and sugar can make it difficult to concentrate. Read here how you can snack for stamina and concentration.

Want to cut down?
Caffeine does have addictive properties and cutting it out can result in withdrawal type symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 

There are two ways of reducing your caffeine intake.  Either caffeine fading where you cut down by ½ cup of coffee per day or more discreetly like reducing your cups of coffee by 2 – 4 cups less per week. It’s a good idea to substitute your coffee (at a lunch break) for another beverage like herbal tea. Caffeine fading results in fewer side effects. You could also achieve this by slowly substituting your coffee with decaffeinated coffee.  

Then there is going the cold turkey route where withdrawal symptoms can be quite hectic. Be careful and perhaps only attempt this way when you have time to relax or exercise, not during a very stressful period of your life. The most common side effect is a headache – this does subside after about 4 – 5 days. 

So you are officially addicted…

Make the best of your ‘addiction’ by making these smarter choices:

  • Limit caffeinated beverages to less than 2-3 servings per day.
  • Go for small cups, not the supersize me jumbo mugs!
  • Ask for skim milk - this alone can save you about 250kJ and 10g of fat per serving. Ask for 'skinny' drinks!
  • Go for froth, not cream.
  • Don’t add extra sugar to flavoured drinks.
  • Have a lighter meal, such as a salad, if you want to indulge in a creamy drink.

Try natural alternatives: 

  • Chicory based coffees
  • Herbal teas – there are so many delish varieties now available
  • Warm water with fresh lemon, mint and/or ginger. 
  • If trying to manage weight when ordering caffeine drinks, at least go for regular size cups, not supersize mugs!  Also go for skimmed milk and reduce the amount of sugars you use. 

You might want to read about how water is considered the miracle beverage.